Wedding etiquette: Is it okay to ask for cash instead of gifts?

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Posted On March 18, 2015 / Posted In Happy Occasions , Gift Guides / Tagged wedding gifts, gift etiquette, cash gifts

Text and images by Sarita Rajiv

So you're getting married soon and you've planned every aspect of your wedding day. The venue is booked, you've finalised your wedding decor, your bridal attire is ready and the invites have been sent. There's just one tiny thing that's niggling you - the gifts. You're expected to set up a wedding registry and list the gifts you want. But you'd rather have cash instead and you're wondering if it's okay to ask your wedding guests to give money instead of gifts.

The awkwardness of cash

What is it about cash gifts that polarizes people? On one hand, there are people who believe that cash gifts are practical, easy to transport and so very useful, while there are others who think cash gifts are unimaginative, impersonal, lazy. What makes people uncomfortable about cash gifts is that you can't really hide the value of the gift. But should that stop you from requesting cash instead of gifts? Not really.

Why cash as a wedding gift makes sense

What made gift registries the right choice earlier doesn't really hold true today. In the past, most married couples were starting afresh and gift registries were a fantastic way to help them outfit their homes. But today a lot of couples live independantly in fully equipped apartments before they decide to get married. Which means they are have just about everything they need in their home. They don't really need another coffee machine, toaster or china. But perhaps they dream to travelling to an exotic destination or are saving up for something else? 

Also what's the point of getting gifts that don't match your taste or you have no use for. And gifting cash isn't really a new trend. Cash gifts at weddings are the norm in many countries. So how you go about asking for cash instead of gifts at your wedding? Like with everything else, there's an etiquette to it. 

1. Share what you'd like to do with the money: Requesting cash instead of gifts may come across crude, impolite or tacky to some. Instead of just asking for money, share what you're going to do with the money. Are you saving up for a new home, are you travelling to a special place for your honeymoon? Share your dreams, aspirations and vision with your wedding guests because it's not really about the money, it's about making your dreams come true.

2. Make your guests a part of the gift: Tackle the impersonality of cash by showing your guests exactly what they are gifting with their money. Use a site like Patchwork Present to break down the one big thing (you're going to use the money for) into smaller pieces and your guests can choose which piece they would like to pay for.  Later, you can even share picture along with your thank you notes. 

3. Spread the word: Make sure your family and close friends are in the loop. So that if anyone asks them what gift you would like, they are in a position to say that you would appreciate cash most. The more people in your inner circle that know your preference, the better your chances of getting what you wnat.

4. Set up a gift registry anyway: While you've made a request for cash, it's polite to also set up a gift registry for those that would rather buy you something themselves. The registry needn't be huge, it's about giving your wedding guests a choice.  

5. Leave the final decision to your guests: The important thing to remember is that while you can request cash at your wedding, the final decision is not yours to make. Let your wedding guests decide what they want to do. If they are uncomfortable with giving cash and prefer giving you a gift, accept their decisiion graciously. 


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Sarita Rajiv is a writer, gifting specialist and founder of The Orange Gift Bag. She’s on a mission to uncover the ‘best gifts after love’. When she isn’t dreaming up unique gift ideas, she writes for The Copenhagen Post and The National Geographic Traveller India among others.

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01/08/2015 at 16:55

hi Sarita: i'm new to your bLog and loving it. On thE matter of sending cash for a wedding GIft (i'd prefer to send a gift, but don't know much about Dept. Stores there), i'm finding it hard to sort out what amount makes sense given currency differences between denmark and canada/us. I'd love to send a friend $150 usD to help with costs of her wedding, which i cannot attend. I estimate thaT to be about 750 Krone, but im not Sure how far that amount Would go. ThE cost of Living might be quite high there. Is thaT a little/moderate/a lot bY local standarDs? Any thoughts To Share? Thank you! ~Sandy


The orange gift bag

02/08/2015 at 13:55

Hi Sandy.Thanks for writing in. By Danish standards, 750 kroner is a fairly decent amount to put into a wedding gift - I would peg it as little over moderate in your classification. I would suggest you give her a gift card to one of the following stores. These are interiors and home decor stores carrying Danish design classics and things you friend could use when setting up a new home. Stores (direct links to gift card): ILLUMS BOLIGHUS: , BAHNE:, KOP & KANDE: . The gift card can be sent to her address directly. Hope this helps!